Born in England and educated in New Zealand, Paul attended the University of Canterbury where he studied computational chemistry and x-ray crystallography. Paul's PhD studies centred on the structural characterisation of gold complexes identified for their potential use as antiarthritic drugs. During this early part of his career, Paul acquired a lifelong passion for writing computer algorithms designed to understand and predict molecular structure. Paul returned to the UK to undertake his first postdoctorate at Queen Mary College London in the field of chemical x-ray crystallography.
His second postdoctoral studies were undertaken at the Imperial Cancer Research Institute (which became Cancer Research UK in 2002) to design algorithms to predict the structure and function of proteins. Within this same institute (now part of the Francis Crick Institute), in the year 2001, he established his own laboratory to develop further protein structure analysis algorithms and to extend this activity into the new and emerging field of structural systems biology.